After two years of mostly virtual classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business economics and law student Sebastian Gingerich, was eager to get out from behind his screen and start experiencing life firsthand.

“Having those two years online, sitting there, hearing everyone talk about how things used to be, made me really thirst for getting involved and meeting new people,” says Gingerich. “I wanted that prototypical university experience that you always see in movies or hear about online.”

sebastian-grad-inline.jpgTo kick things off, he flew to the Netherlands with his parents for his 18th birthday after travel restrictions were lifted in his second year. Little did he know then, the trip would alter the trajectory of his degree – and his life – uncovering new possibilities he had never considered.

“The trip made me realize how there’s so much more out there to explore and experience. It’s one thing to know that and it’s another thing to experience it for yourself,” says Gingerich. It was the first time he had left the continent and the experience opened his eyes to a vastly different way of living. Walking down the cobbled streets of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, he fell in love with the people, the culture and the lifestyle. Immediately upon his return, he applied to study abroad.

“I had my hypothesis, but I wanted to find out for sure how much I actually loved the Netherlands. It was my one-and-only choice – I knew that if I was going to study abroad, I wanted it to be here.”

His hunch was soon confirmed. Gingerich spent one year at the Nijmegen School of Management at Radboud University, the U of A’s business exchange partner, where he made the most of every opportunity. He participated in case competitions and got involved in student clubs, where he got to meet people from around the world. He spent his semester breaks travelling around Europe with his girlfriend (Lindsay Adams, BCom ’24), who was studying abroad in Sweden at the same time.

“Whenever I saw something I thought might be interesting, I signed up. I think I was driven by the fact that I spent so much time cramped up, waiting to get involved,” says Gingerich.

Back home in Canada, he packed his calendar equally full of various extracurriculars. If he wasn’t coaching high school debate, he was volunteering with SafeWalk. When he wasn’t busy  participating on the executive of the real estate student club, he was helping to organize the Model UN conference. The list goes on.

“I’m really grateful for all the opportunities I was given through the university. Sure, I did all these things, but I wouldn’t have been able to do them if they weren’t offered in the first place.”

During COVID there was a missing sense of interconnectedness and community for Gingerich. Fast forward a couple of years, he is now launching his newest experiment – this time, with his girlfriend. The pair is returning to the Netherlands in the fall, where they both will begin a master’s of law at Maastricht University.

Drawing on his diverse interests and experiences at the U of A, he currently plans on exploring the intersection of law and international business but is open to whatever opportunities present themselves along the way.

“My approach is to take every opportunity I get and see what happens. The trick has always been to under-plan a bit to avoid overthinking it.”

Banner image caption: 
Sebastian Gingerich at the Royal Castle in Warsaw during his study abroad experience.

 

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